POLICE: HOA bookkeeper confesses to embezzling

Article Courtesy of CBS Channel 1 News

Published April 17, 2011

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- Police say a homeowner's association bookkeeper has confessed to forging 34 checks that total $31,248.73, telling police he needed to money to pay his children's college tuition and expenses.

Celestino Cruz, 56, of 2659 Yarmouth Drive in Wellington, was arrested Wednesday following an investigation by Boynton Beach Police that began March 21 after Cruz's employer, Apogee Association Services, got a call from client Meadows on the Green, a Boynton Beach condo homeowners association whose president noticed a check to a vendor instead had Cruz's name as the payee.

DOCUMENT: Read the full police report

Police say Cruz would change checks approved by the homeowners association to his name as the payee. Canceled checks also had his name as the endorser on the back.


Cruz told police he had not slept or eaten since he stole the money, and was prepared to sell his home to pay back the amount taken, according to the police report. In a subsequent interview, he told police he was prepared to pay $25,000 to the HOA. 


Cruz was arrested on charges of organized scheme to defraud, grand theft and 34 counts of forgery and uttering a forged instrument.